Saturday, December 15, 2012

Holiday road trip

After a spell of being out of pocket and without easy access to my computer, Husband Walter and I are back home. Our Dec. 4-Dec. 11 trip covered lots of territory, both geographically and emotionally. Here’s a sample:

Destination: Family
A happy reunion with Grandma Sugar, center, O'Neil and Sue, right, and their sons Matt and John, left.

The purpose of our jaunt was to take my mother-in-law Grandma Sugar to visit Sue, her youngest sister, at her home in Kentucky.

Hubby and his Aunt Sue were born only a few months apart. Next-door neighbors, theirs was a brother-sister relationship. Sue is energetic, caring and has a wonderful, infectious sense of humor.

We requested that Sue and her husband make no plans for entertaining us. We just wanted to “visit” during our three-night stay. And visit we did.  

We caught up with this special couple, their grown sons, their sons wives and children, plus a couple of friends and neighbors who had traveled with Sue on earlier visits to Grandma Sugar. 

We headed home several pounds heavier but with light- and laughter-filled spirits.

Fantasy in Lights
Our trip’s first stop on the way to our Kentucky visit was for the Christmas Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Garden and Resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

The annual holiday lighting extravaganza is just one of the attractions of the 14,000-acre gardens and resort that is nestled in the Appalachian foothills.

Our tour of the garden’s annual Christmas lighting display was the third for Hubby and me and the first for Grandma Sugar. She rated it nice but not in the same league with Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile, Alabama. I think one difference is that visitors walk through the Bellingrath display. I assume most visitors view Callaway Garden’s light displays from private vehicle or from the Garden’s trolleys.

The exception is a March of Dimes walking tour. That colorful hike in 2008 was my first experience with Fantasy in Lights. The one-night-only fundraiser evidently was an annual holiday tradition among many Georgia families. The festive crowd included adults, babies in strollers, kids in wagons, family members in wheelchairs.

The light displays had not changed much this year, but for me there was a bit more magic at work when we walked the route surrounded by the whimsical plants, animals, toys, fairies and elves, all created in colored lights. Whether Callaway, Bellingrath or someone’s front lawn, I do enjoy Christmas lights.

Click for earlier posts on our 2009 Christmas light experiences at

Callaway Gardens. Photo by Walter Skupien

Click on photos to enlarge.

Charlie’s smile changes
Charlie flashes a new smile.
Our second day on the road was spent with our oldest son and his family.
We arrived at the Georgia Skupiens’ home Wednesday in time to join the audience as granddaughter Charlie, six, arrived home from school. She regaled us with the saga of her first loss of a baby tooth.
The tooth ready for nighttime pickup
Charlie tucked the tooth in a special little box, and was happy and excited about an anticipated visit from the tooth fairy. The next morning, however, Charlie’s woebegone face clued us in that something was amiss.

The tooth was missing from the little box that Charlie had stashed under her pillow, but the tooth fairy had left nothing behind. Daughter-in-law Sarah consoled a distraught and gap-toothed daughter. Sarah finally hit on a solution that Charlie embraced.

Charlie would write a letter to the Tooth Fairy alerting that dental emissary of the malfunction in the pickup and delivery process. Charlie loves writing and sending letters which she illustrates with abundant drawings. Her tooth was lost. But it will not be forgotten. And I am eagerly waiting to hear the rest of the story.

In the Smoky Mountains
We spent two nights in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Our itinerary included attending that mountain city’s annual Christmas parade. There was the traditional Santa Claus, marching bands, floats and assorted princesses and beauty queens. But other parade units surprised me. I had never seen so many fire trucks together in a single parade, all with sirens full blast.

And those Tennessee folks do love their cars. There was a Ford Mustang group, a group of ancient antique cars, vehicles from the 1980s TV series Dukes of Hazzard and even a string of those diminutive Smart cars sporting either elf ears or reindeer antlers and a Rudolph red nose.

The most unusual unit, though, was an auto extravagantly decorated with Christmas lights. Husband Walter posted here about the parade, including his video of that vehicle bedecked with lights.


  1. The first lost tooth smiles are the best ones of all!!! I love the light pictures, especially the first reflection one. What fun all this sounds like!

  2. You have had a lot going on. This time of year is so busy, but it is so special also.

  3. It's too bad there was no reward left behind for the tooth. Wonder why. Thanks for the link to Walter's blog. He takes great photos and writes well, too. Glad you are back with your blog. I missed you!

  4. well your trip ran the gambit of fun with family and beauty viewed. sounds like a great time with family and friends. i would love to visit KY, the happiest years of my life were spent in KY from 53 to 59.. KY has a special place in my heart.

  5. Glad to see you are okay. Had not heard from you in a while. Sounds like you have been everywhere, ala Willie Nelson.

    I read the other day that one child asked, "Where are all the teeth the tooth fairy collected?"
    Do you know? I don't. Dianne